Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Curb Procrastination

Procrastination strips you of your willpower. When you procrastinate, even though you know that you should be doing something else, you just can’t do it. If you want to binge on Netflix, aimlessly scroll social media for hours or start spring cleaning out of the blue instead of doing what you think you should, you might be procrastinating.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a powerful method used in mainstream psychotherapy. It’s one of the most successful approaches in psychotherapy. Normally, CBT is done with the supervision of a therapist. However, some of the techniques employed in CBT are so simple, you can use them on your own!

Obviously, if you have a serious mental condition, you should seek professional help. But in many cases, you actually can help yourself with employing some really simple techniques. Here are some simple CBT techniques you can use to curb procrastination:


Daily Activity Schedule

Write down two columns: The first column is named ‘prospective’ column under which you are going to plan your day on a hour by hour basis. The second column is named ‘retrospective’ column under which you are going to write what you have actually done during the day. Label each activity for mastery (M) or pleasure (P). Also, rate activities you have done by satisfaction or difficulty. Activities closer to 0 are easy and less satisfying. By contrasts, activities closer to 5 are difficult and more rewarding. With this method, you won’t have inner fighting regarding what you are going to do.


TIC-TOC Technique

TIC-TOC stands for Task Interfering Cognition and Task Oriented Cognition. In one column, write down automatic thoughts you have that cause you to procrastinate. For example if you think what you do is worthless, or that you think you won’t have any pleasure from doing the activity write this thoughts under the TIC column. In the TAC column write down why this thought of yours is actually not that rational. There are several thinking errors identified by psychiatrists using CBT. Find out about them and see whether your TIC’s contain any of them. If it does, write it down under the TAC column.



This is one of the most entertaining CBT techniques. Under the first column, write down your reason for not doing the activity. Under the other column write why this reason is not valid. Continue writing ‘buts’ till you aren’t able to find any reason for not doing the activity.


Anti-Procrastination Sheet

Write down the activity. Write also how difficult and satisfying you think doing it will be with percentages. If you think it is an extremely difficult and unrewarding activity, write 90% to the predicted difficulty column and 10% to the predicted pleasure column. After doing the activity write down the actual difficulty and satisfaction, again as percentages. Compare predicted and actual percentages. 

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